Shropshire Council

Advice to help you stay well

The NHS has made changes to how they provide care to make it safer for you during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re worried about your health, don’t delay – help us help you get the care you need this winter. Read the NHS 'We’re here to help you stay well this winter' leaflet to find out more. There's also a large print version available.

Winter conditions can be bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions such as heart or kidney disease, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma or diabetes. Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Think you have coronavirus?

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) it’s important you get tested as soon as possible. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you don't need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you can't smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Don't wait, you need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms.

You can apply for a test online or by calling 119.

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, the service is available by textphone on 18001 119 and the NHS 119 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service.

If you're getting a test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home until you get your result. Anyone in your support bubble must also stay at home.

If you need medical advice about your symptoms, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or contact NHS 111 by phone or via the NHS 111 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service or by textphone on 18001 111.

Feeling unwell but not with coronavirus symptoms?

Don’t delay, the sooner you get advice the better. Depending on your symptoms, you can get advice from your local pharmacy, GP practice or NHS 111. For minor health concerns, your local pharmacist can help. If you can’t get to a pharmacy yourself, ask someone to go for you or call them. GP practices offer remote consultations online or by phone. If you need a face-to-face appointment, they'll tell you what to do.

If you need medical help fast, or think you need to go to an emergency department (A&E), are worried about your symptoms or you’re not sure what to do, go straight to NHS 111 online, by phone, textphone or NHS 111 BSL interpreter service. Have a look at the back of the NHS 'We’re here to help you stay well this winter' leaflet to find out more about NHS services and how to contact them.

Dial 999 for life threatening emergencies.

The following information provides you with a range of information to help you stay well this winter and who to contact to get the best advice and support you need.

Are you eligible for a free flu vaccination?

‘Just’ the flu? There’s no ‘just’ about it. In an average year, the flu virus kills 11,000 people and hospitalises thousands more. Flu can be serious and even deadly for older adults, very young children, and people with underlying health conditions.

The flu vaccine is the best protection for you and those around you, that’s why it’s free to those most at risk. If you’re in an eligible group – make sure you get vaccinated. Ask your pharmacist or GP if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine.

In light of the additional risk to health during the Covid-19 pandemic, for 2020/21 the flu vaccination will be offered to:

  • Everyone aged 65 and over
  • Everyone under 65 years of age who has a medical condition listed above, including children and babies over six months of age
  • All pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
  • All two- and three-year-old children (provided they were aged two or three years old on 31 August prior to the current flu season)
  • All children in primary school
  • All year 7 secondary school-aged children
  • Everyone living in a residential or nursing home
  • Everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
  • Household contacts of anyone on the NHS Shielded Patient List
  • All frontline health and social care workers

There's an aim to further extend the vaccine programme in November and December to include the 50-64-year-old age group subject to vaccine supply.

Please see the table of eligible groups for the full eligibility list.

Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why? (Information from the NHS, which includes other languages and formats)

The NHS Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why leaflet explains the importance of having the flu vaccination this winter.

This leaflet is also available in other languages. Please click on the appropriate link for your language choice:

This leaflet is also in other formats including:

Find out more from the easy read vaccination during a pandemic A4 flyer and easy read 'Flu vaccine – why do I have to wait?'

Protecting your child against flu (NHS Parents and carers leaflet, which includes other languages and formats)

This leaflet is also available in other languages. Please click on the appropriate link for your language choice:

  • Arabic                                                                                                    
  • Bengali                                             
  • Chinese (simplified)                                        
  • Chinese (traditional)                                      
  • German                                                     
  • Gujarati                                         
  • Hindi                                                 
  • Italian                                                
  • Polish
  • Romani
  • Romanian
  • Somali
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Turkish 
  • Urdu                                 

This leaflet is also in other formats including:

The British Fatwa Council has issued a response relating to a fatwa on flu vaccine containing porcine gelatine. 

Find out more about who should have it this winter and why from the Gov.UK website.

Find out more about flu vaccinations from the NHS website.

Top tips to stay well this winter

Keep warm

It's important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.

Keep active

Many of us are having to spend more time at home, which can make it harder to keep active. It’s important to continue to do what you can to help with your physical and mental health. There’s strong evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. Regular exercise can also reduce the risk of falling, and can be beneficial for recovery if you do get ill.

Mental health and wellbeing

We all feel down from time to time, no matter what our age is, but if you’ve not been feeling yourself for a while, talking therapy could help you feel better. Contact your GP practice about talking therapy if you’re feeling anxious, low or out of sorts. Your GP is there to help you – physically and mentally – and can refer you to the right service.

Have a look at the Mental Health and Wellbeing page on our website. This contains lots of information and resources including a 'Looking after your mental health during COVID-19' guide, and information about TogetherAll  - a free-to-access online community for Shropshire residents aged 16 and above.

Take a look at Every mind matters too, which contains expert advice and practical tips to help people of all ages after their mental health and wellbeing.

Check your medicine cabinet

Ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season. Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). Your pharmacist can help if you need any advice. To manage winter illness symptoms at home, you should keep warm, rest, drink plenty of fluids, have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up and use over-the-counter medications to help give relief. For more information search ‘medicine cabinet’ on the NHS website.

Handwashing

Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning, diarrhoea, flu and coronavirus. Wash your hands thoroughly for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (around 20 seconds). If you don't have immediate access to soap and water then use alcohol-based handrub. For more information take a look at the NHS website.

Prescriptions

Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas. And, if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed.

Don’t go to a pharmacy if you have symptoms of coronavirus or are self-isolating. You can order prescriptions via GP or pharmacy websites and apps or by calling them. Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you.  

Look out for other people

Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the winter. There’s a lot you can do to help people who are more frail than you. Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they’re feeling under the weather.

Coronavirus help and support

Take a look at the coronavirus ‘Information for the Public’ section of this website. This contains lots of information including rights and benefits and  other sources of support, including help with energy bills, housing, and food.

You can contact our helpline on 0345 678 9028 for any coronavirus-related issues and enquiries, between 8am to 6pm weekdays, and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Each caller will be asked to explain their need and, if required, this information will be passed onto the appropriate support. Please note that the helpline is for council services only - for any health-related queries and issues please use the NHS 111 online service.

Community reassurance teams are in place to help those who are vulnerable and in need of help. The team can be contacted through the coronavirus helpline above.

Find out more about your health over winter from the NHS 'We’re here to help you stay well this winter' leaflet and Keep Warm Keep Well information.

Winter programmes and related information